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Ben Sures Ben Sures
Album: Poema Poematis
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 11

Self released but with funding from The Canada Council, you don't really turn down the chance to have your songs arranged for strings and horns and have them presented in concert. Recorded on 24th March 2016, the music finally sees the light of day over two years later.

The show and subsequent album features newly arranged versions of some of his most popular songs including 'Any Precious Girl' - the John Lennon songwriting contest folk category winner. Normally just him and his guitar, the subject matter ranging from imaginary rayguns to childhood memories of his father's homemade sandwiches and from the impact of social media to the dangers of foreign travel are accompanied by his trademark rootsy traditions given a contemporary wash together with the grander arrangements.

Some may baulk at the ten piece outfit delivering songs with forty shades of jazzed up nature with music hall and gypsy jazz oompahpah-ing away while referencing some of the jazz greats, Mingus, Parker, Grappelli and Reinhardt. Half a dozen separate song intros explain the strange track numbering on the back cover and give the noted Sures stage banter its own showcase, the tongue in cheekiness coming out with a sprightly 'Used To Have A Raygun' and 'In Burma' where a springy double bass solo provides a platform for the players to do their thang. 'Where Are They Now' somehow brings to mind a 'Graceland' era Paul Simon with its easy groove shuffling away and interjections of brassiness.

'In A Perfect World' fantasises about all the things you could do (in a perfect world natural) - "where you don't have to floss" a particular favourite - and you can only visualise the whole thing getting gloriously hammed up, and as a reference point, it recalls the type of bouncy fayre being paddled around the UK by Rob Heron & his Teapad Orchestra. Along with 'Everybody Matters' and its potential for audience participation, it provides an upbeat, rhyming challenging and lively ending to a set that takes the famous FATEA acoustic spectrum into different areas.

Mike Ainscoe